Posts Tagged ‘natural fertilizer’

Lawn Fertilizers: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Published by JKeefe on December 2nd, 2010 - in Fertilizer, Lawn Care Companies

They say wasting fertilizer ain't a good way to make a livin'


There was a day when if you wanted a green lawn, you grabbed a bag of fertilizer and loaded up your toy spreader.  The amount used did not matter, just the joy of showing the neighbors you had skill and most certainly cared for your green piece of America.  Even if your efforts created a checker board of stripes, it was fun and those dark green stripes glowed at night.  It was most likely a hack job at best, but you did not mind- until the neighbor starting using a lawn company.

No one paid attention to soil pH, fertilizer leaching, amounts, weeds, or pesky bugs- what disease?  Then came liquid gold from Chemlawn started in the 60’s, spraying lawns with fertilizers that delivered a color response in mere days.  As the decades passed more companies sprung up and manicured lawns became an obsession and passion each glorious spring to fall.  Someone just raised the stakes in the game of lawn poker meaning throwing down fertilizer would simply just not do.

How much fertilizer was enough?  Who could know?  Suburban streets became lined with tiles of green, lawns created a patchwork within each town or city.  Too much of any good thing can cause harm and the volume of materials applied for decades will undoubtedly be measured into the future in respect to pesticides.

The bad part about synthetic fertilizer is it requires a lot of propane or oil to manufacture.  One ton of Urea (N) takes 5 tons of petroleum to manufacture.  I like chocolate too but wow!  How much is enough?  In the days of hybrid cars, solar energy and alike, we need to give a hard look at how much fertilizer is really needed and if there are alternatives.  The good news about fertilizer use is there are alternatives and the use of standard fertilizers must continue to decline in the future.  How long can we continue to rely on manufactured fertilizers when it depends upon a finite resource like oil or some other petroleum product?  Just like a hybrid car uses less gas and employs additional technology (batteries, biofuels) to function- so lawns can continue with less fertilizer (gas) and employ other means (kelp, compost tea, mycorrihizae, rhizobacteria, lime) to stay healthy and green.

Perhaps a good course of action would be to start reducing our use of old style fertilizers now while moving toward other management systems before there is a shortage of petroleum.  Planning ahead takes thought and moving in a new direction takes education and determination.  Staying the same is really not a good option based upon the need to conserve energy.  In this case, helping you lawn run more efficient and healthy by itself, while using organic and natural products seems like a good place to start.  There is no need to run out of the kitchen yelling fire- stop using fertilizer, but certainly- like a spice- fertilizer should be used in moderation.  After all, you would not put lots of garlic on everything right?  Yuck!


Back to School applies to your lawn as well

Look beyond your current lawn

As August wanes slowly into September, one can hear the school bells ringing in the distance, beckoning fresh pens, note books, and clothes for all the children readying themselves for another school year.  This time of year not only signifies preparation for school, but an ideal- if not momentous time frame to make significant gains in your lawn.  Yes, it’s back to school for your grass too!  Fall has huge advantages over spring in terms of aeration, seeding, renovations (large and small), liming, potassium, and various blends of fertilizer.  Fall is “Christmas” when it comes to strategically improving your urban or suburban lawn through a host of treatments in a short period of time- 1 to 2 months in most cases.  Why all the fuss?  Why all the clatter- what could be the matter?  I will tell you so please read on!

Your grass likely took a pounding this summer with the unusually high heat, dry periods, weed invasions of all kinds that crawl or stand upright.  People, this is war and if you don’t make your move- the enemy will win- you will lose ground.  Fall is the perfect time to fight back- but why you say?  The soil is warm with cool nights making ideal seed germination conditions.  Annual weeds like crabgrass- spurge and other villains are dying- on their way out which means minimal completion for light, nutrients, and space.  Indeed, fall has many benefits similar to late spring without the mud, cold soil, and upcoming competition of those aforementioned annual weeds.  Simply put, if you love or even like your lawn- if you dabble in applying a little fertilizer here or there- this is the time to do it.  Deep down, you know you should act- but how?

 If you hire a company like mine- all of the details will be handled for you.  However, should you take on this roll yourself- you must plan out what you want to accomplish because the timing and sequence of events are important for maximum results.  After all, working for no results is not much fun- like eating out at a restaurant with no food- fun for a few minutes but quickly becomes a waste of time and energy.

Aeration and over-seeding rank #1 and #2 in our top 6 turf list of beneficial things to do.  I will not go into detail as to why these services are so important- you can check out my earlier blog posts for that- but rather I will rate the treatments in terms of overall importance.

Coming in at #3 is lime, especially high calcium lime- again- check out my post and link below which explains why lime is so important, especially around seeding.

Sea Kelp, a natural bio-stimulant, soil enhancer, and organic matter delight comes in at #4 in our top 6 list of lawn treatments.  If your lawn is new, sandy, weak, or has soil that was best left in a landfill or Walmart parking lot- this product is for you!  The best part about Sea Kelp is how wonderful it is to improving the soil and root zone environment for your grass.  You may have a hard time finding some fresh Sea Kelp, but it is worth the time finding it.  Lets just say Sea Kelp is one of my favorite overall treatments.  The only reason Kelp ranks 4th is it can be done any time of year!  If you have not had a treatment, now is the time- don’t wait until spring.

Rolling in at #5 is a balanced fertilizer treatment (1-3 visits) depending upon your exposure, grass types, and how early you start the series of treatments (Aug vs Oct).

The #6 treatment is potassium and can be done in late September to early November depending upon your geographic location.  For more information on this treatment, click on this link.

In an ideal situation, you would want to complete the entire list.  However, budget restraining- I have numbered them in order of priority in terms of benefit to your lawn this fall.  So while you are out clothes shopping for your kids and just found that perfect backpack or stapler- don’t forget to prepare your lawn for school as well!  Rent that aerator, buy that seed, shop for lime and fertilizer.  Best of luck and I wish that the grass may always be greener on your side of the fence!

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